|Publication number||US7090643 B2|
|Application number||US 10/763,341|
|Publication date||Aug 15, 2006|
|Filing date||Jan 23, 2004|
|Priority date||Jan 23, 2003|
|Also published as||EP1594404A2, EP1594404A4, EP1594404B1, US20040152986, WO2004064614A2, WO2004064614A3|
|Publication number||10763341, 763341, US 7090643 B2, US 7090643B2, US-B2-7090643, US7090643 B2, US7090643B2|
|Inventors||Howard F. Fidel, Raul F. Gutierrez|
|Original Assignee||3G Ultrasound, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (20), Non-Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (14), Classifications (13), Legal Events (12)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) from U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/442,034, filed on Jan. 23, 2003, which is incorporated herein by reference, in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to apparatus used for ultrasonic imaging. More particularly, it relates to apparatus for simultaneous imaging in both longitudinal and transverse views. More specifically, it relates to apparatus for imaging for purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment, especially for diagnosis and treatment of organs such as the prostate.
2. Prior Art
There are various situations in which it is necessary to do ultrasonic imaging to assist in medical diagnosis and treatment. For example, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers found in men. Treatment options include “watchful waiting”, hormonal therapy, brachytherapy, or surgery. Three types of surgery are used. The classical “open” procedure, radical prostetectomy, and the newly developed laproscopic and cryosurgery procedures. All procedures have risks. Both the open procedures and the laproscopic procedures have significant risks of causing impotence and incontinence. With both brachytherapy, and cryosurgery the prostate is left in vivo, and therefore the risk of complications is much lower, and the recovery time is quicker.
In brachytherapy, trains of seeds are implanted in rows in the prostate. Cryosurgery is done in a similar fashion, except that cooling needles are inserted in eight to twelve locations in the prostate. Cold gases are circulated through the needles, and the prostate is monitored by ultrasound imaging for the formation of ice balls, which indicates proper operation of the device. Both of these procedures may be preformed under local anesthetic.
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It is an object of the invention to provide an ultrasonic probe that allows the entire prostate to be visualized at once.
It is a further object of the invention to provide an ultrasonic probe that may be used to place the transverse scan in the middle of the prostate, thus eliminating the need to change the longitudinal position of the transducer along the rectum, and requiring rotation, which does not move the prostate significantly.
It is yet another object of the invention to allow for more accurate and quicker needle placement for brachytherapy and cryosurgery when using a standard brachytherapy and cryosurgery apparatus.
It is still another object of the invention to provide an ultrasonic probe that allows for the entire prostate to be imaged simultaneously in both longitudinal and transverse views.
These objects and others are achieved in accordance with the invention by providing a bi-plane transducer where three independent arrays are mounted. There are two curved arrays typically subtending 30 degrees of arc of typically 60 mm radius mounted longitudinally on the housing, with a micro-convex array of typically 10 mm radius mounted transversely between the two larger curved arrays.
The ultrasound system used with this ultrasonic probe can be used to scan all three arrays sequentially. The two convex arrays are used to create one continuous image of the longitudinal plane. The micro-convex transducer images the transverse plane. Both images can be displayed simultaneously on the system monitor. At least one high voltage multiplexer integrated circuit may be built into the handle to switch the system electronics between the three different arrays of the probe. At least one additional multiplexer may be used to switch between the above mentioned probe and another probe.
The present invention is also directed to the combination of the new ultrasonic probe described herein, and an electronics package or module to which the probe is connected. As is known in the art, such package or module serves to excite and control the transducer arrays of the ultrasonic probe, process signals representative of ultrasonic reflections received by the transducer arrays from structures within a subject or patient, form images in accordance with the processed signals, and display the images for viewing by appropriate personnel.
The invention is also directed to a method of using an ultrasonic probe, and in particular, the ultrasonic probe in accordance with the invention, and the associated electronics package or module (in combination, the ultrasonic system) to image two intersecting planes within the subject or patient. Preferably, an entire organ (such as the prostate) is viewed, without having to reposition the probe (along the length of the rectum, in the case of the prostate).
Thus, the invention is directed to an ultrasonic probe comprising an elongate structure having a longitudinal axis; a first array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending along an outer surface of the elongate structure in a direction generally parallel to the longitudinal axis; a second array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending along the outer surface of the elongate structure in a direction generally parallel to the longitudinal axis; and a third array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending about the elongate structure in a direction so that it images a plane perpendicular to that imaged by at least one of the first array and the second array, the third array being disposed in a space between the first array and the second array.
The first array, the second array and the third array are preferable outwardly convex. The third array preferably has a radius of curvature smaller than that of the first array and the second array. The first array and the second array may be configured so that beams formed by the first array and the second array subtend substantially thirty degrees of arc. The third array may be configured so that a beam formed by the third array subtends substantially one hundred eighty degrees of arc.
The probe may further comprise a multiplexer for multiplexing connections to each of the first array, the second array and the third array. The multiplexer may be disposed within the elongate structure.
The first array and the second array are preferably aligned so as to image a portion of a substantially continuous plane perpendicular to the plane imaged by the third array.
The invention is also directed to the above described probe in combination with a second probe, the second probe being capable of positioning so as to imaging in a plane perpendicular to a plan imaged by the first array and a plane imaged by the second array.
The invention is also directed to one or both of the above described probes in combination with an electronics module, comprising excitation circuitry for providing excitation energy to the probe; receiving circuitry for processing signals received by the probe; signal processing circuitry for processing signals from the receiving circuitry to produced processed image signals; and a display for displaying the processed image signals. The combination may further comprise at least one of: frequency setting circuitry for setting a frequency of the excitation energy; depth control circuitry for controlling the depth of images produced on the display; gain control circuitry for controlling gain of the receiving circuitry; and steering and focus control circuitry as a component of the signal processing circuitry for controlling the manner of operation of the signal processing circuitry. The excitation circuitry may comprise a table memory for providing values of waveforms used to excite transducer elements of the probe. The combination may further comprising analog to digital converters as components of the signal processing circuitry for converting analog signals from the receiving circuitry into digital signals.
The invention is also directed to an ultrasonic imaging system comprising: a first probe having an elongate structure having a longitudinal axis; at least a first array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending along an outer surface of the elongate structure in a direction generally parallel to the longitudinal axis; an additional array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending about the elongate structure in a direction so that it images a plane perpendicular to that imaged by the at least one first array; a second probe having a further transducer array, the second probe capable of being positioned so as to imaging in a plane perpendicular to a plan imaged by the first array and the plane imaged by the additional array; and an electronics module, the module having the components mentioned above, including the excitation circuitry, receiving circuitry, signal processing circuitry; and a display for displaying processed image signals.
The first probe may further comprise a second array of ultrasonic transducer elements extending along the outer surface of the elongate structure in a direction generally parallel to the longitudinal axis, the second array also being excited by the excitation circuitry.
The additional array is preferably disposed between the first array and the second array.
The system may further comprise at least one multiplexer for connecting each of the first array, the additional array and the further array to the electronics module for display of images.
The at least one multiplexer may comprise a first multiplexer for switching the electronics module between the first probe and the second probe; and a second multiplexer for switching between transducer arrays of the first probe.
The first multiplexer may be a four to one multiplexer, which switches to a first half of transducer element of the further array, a second half of transducer elements of the further array, a first half of transducer element of a selected one of the arrays in the first probe, and a second half of transducer elements of the selected array in the first probe. The second multiplexer may switch the selected array to be one of the first array and the additional array. When the probe comprises a second array extending along the outer surface of the elongate structure, the second array may also be excited by the excitation circuitry, and the second array may be one of the selected arrays.
The invention is also directed to a method for medical ultrasonic imaging comprising placing a first probe having transducer arrays which image in two mutually perpendicular directions in a body cavity of a patient; placing a second probe on an exterior surface of the patient so that a transducer array of the second probe produces an image in a plane perpendicular to each of the two mutually perpendicular planes; exciting the probes; and forming images using signals from the probe to visualize structures within the patient. The first probe may have the structure described above.
The foregoing aspects and other features of the present invention are explained in the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Referring again briefly to
Referring also to
The three transducer arrays of end portion 40 are for emitting and receiving ultrasound for the purpose of imaging the organs of a patient, and in particular, the prostate of a patient. These transducer arrays include a first convex array 50, a second convex array 52, and a micro-convex array 54.
Transducer arrays 50 and 52 may each comprise 96 piezoelectric elements, having a pitch of 0.327 mm, an elevation of 5 mm, and a focal distance of 30 mm. Each array may subtend 30 degrees of arc, of a 60 mm radius of curvature. The frequency of resonance of the piezoelectric elements may be 6.5 MHz.
Micro-convex transducer array 54 may include 128 elements. Alternatively, it may include 96 elements on a pitch of 0.215 mm, having an elevation of 5 mm and a focal distance of 30 mm, with the beam formed subtending an angle of 180 degrees. The frequency of resonance of the piezoelectric elements may be 6.5 MHz.
As noted above, multiplexing electronics may be located in handle 46 of housing 44. A cable (not shown in
In general, module 100 may be controlled by a microprocessor 102 connected by suitable lines 103 to a control input 104. Microprocessor 102 and control input 104 may be dedicated, hardwired components (such as a control panel with appropriate switches and knobs for control input 104) within module 100, or may represent, for example a personal computer and a keyboard, respectively, interfaced in a manner well know in the art to the remainder of module 100. If this is the caner suitable software may be provided to allow the keyboard to provide the control inputs typically provided in a modnle 100, such as brightness, contrast, color control, and control over parameter such as frequency of operation, focus, beam steering, system gain, and other necessary parameters, as more fully described below. In a like manner, a video processor 106 and a display 108 may also be dedicated components of the module 100 or the video driver card and monitor of the personal computer.
Frequency control inputs provided by control input 104 are processed by microprocessor 102 and provided in suitable form to a frequency control 110. An output of frequency control 110 determines the rate at which entries in a table memory 112 are read out to each of sixty-four different transmitter channels represented as 114. Table memory 112 includes a multidimensional array of waveform values. The values that are read out for one of the dimensions is determined by a depth control 116, in response to inputs from microprocessor 102, as determined by input from control input 104. Thus the depth of display desired may be adjusted.
The outputs of the transmitter channels are supplied to a transmit/receive switch 118, which is in turn connected to a 4:1 multiplexer or MUX 120 and sixty-four receiver channels, as represented by 122. The transmit/receive switch 118 serves to switch the sixty-four inputs of 4:1 MUX 120 between transmitter channels 114 and receiver channels 122 in a manner well known in the art.
The 4:1 MUX 120 serves to switch the 64 transmitter and receiver channels between 128 elements of transducer 19 (sixty four elements at a time) and the 96 elements of one of the transducer arrays of ultrasonic probe 42. In other words, there are 256 outputs on one side of MUX 120 (the side connected to the cables to transducer 19 and probe 42) and 64 on the other side connected to transmit/receive switch 118. However, in the case of probe 42, some of the outputs are not used. MUX 120 may be a high voltage, low impedance switching multiplexer, such as that manufactured by Supertex, Inc., located in Sunnyvale, Calif., U.S.A.
A second multiplexer or MUX 124 (in this case a 3:1 multiplexer located in the handle of probe 42) having 128 ports on each side, is used to successively connect 96 outputs of MUX 120 to the respective element of the three transducer element arrays of probe 42 described above. MUX 124 may be of the same general type as MUX 120.
Receiver channels 122 provide suitable amplification and conditioning of analog signals returned by transducer elements of transducer 19 and probe 42 in response to reflections of ultrasound by structures within the patient. Gain control signals are provided to receiver channels 122 by a bus 125. The analog signals are converted to digital form by a series of sixty-four analog-to-digital converters or A/D's 126. As is well known in the art, the number of A/D output signals used to form an image is a function of depth of the image, generally with more channels being used for imaging at greater depth. A beam steering and focusing circuit 128 process the digital signals from the A/D's 126. The outputs of beam steering and focusing circuit 128 are provided to video processor 106 to provide a suitable representation of the patient on display 108.
Microprocessor 102 has appropriate outputs 130 and 132 for controlling MWX 120 and MUX 124, as required to perform the sequence of switching described herein.
The images provided on display 108 advantageously include those provided by the three transducer arrays of probe 42, as discussed above. In addition, an image generated by signals from probe 19 may also be displayed, preferably above the image resulting from the signals from probe 42. Thus, in addition to imaging the transverse plane and the entire longitudinal plane of an organ, such as the prostate, or a defined region, a top view may be displayed as well. The various images, when taken together, provide an excellent, very precise view of the organ or image in three dimensions, allowing the precise location of structures and therefore the accurate placement of, for example, seeds or needles, for brachytherapy or cryosurgery, as described above.
It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||600/447, 600/463|
|International Classification||A61B, A61B8/12, A61B8/14|
|Cooperative Classification||A61B8/445, G01S15/892, A61B8/4488, G01S15/8929, A61B8/12|
|European Classification||A61B8/44R2, A61B8/12, G01S15/89D1C2|
|Jan 23, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: 3G ULTRASOUND, INC., NEW JERSEY
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